In our spiritual life, we want to know if we are making progress, but much of growth and formation is intangible, so we have to look deeper than a mere measurement.
It wasn’t the answer I was expecting, but when we dug a little deeper, I could see the wisdom.
I was talking with a counselor, and I asked him how do we know if we are growing spiritually or not? There isn’t any objective measuring tool where we can say we have moved 5 points ahead or back. That would really open us up to feelings of pride or failure.
We are like a cup in which energy both fills and drains. But we can grow by paying attention to the cup and understanding the fillers and the drainers.
It was always a challenge to get them to care for themselves. They were always giving out to others, and I could see that life was being sucked out of them.
I explained that you can’t give out of an empty cup, but self-sacrifice and martyrdom had been drummed into them from childhood. They remembered that Sunday School song – J.O.Y. Jesus first, Yourself last, and Others in between sung to the merry little tune of Jingle Bells.
The load we carry can get too heavy, and we can breakdown. But we can grow through it when we have others who will watch with us.
I needed help. I vividly remember the day I rang emergency services. I had come to a point where I knew I couldn’t carry the load by myself anymore. I had been beaten down emotionally and needed help.
Every one of us is different. We all have different tolerance levels and abilities to handle what life throws at us. For some, they seem to be, for want of a better word, hard and tough. Nothing seems to break them. They have built a toughness around themselves, and nothing seems to get to them.
It was the feelings of a guilt trip and the words of being a ‘Brothers Keeper’ that triggered me. But was it genuinely helping me and them to think this way? Something needed to change.
Some people seem to be able to push the manipulation guilt trip button every time. They tell you how life has been hard. They share their background and a wide range of struggles. You listen, and you empathize with their struggle, and indeed life is hard for some people.
Then you look at yourself and all that you have. You may begin to feel some guilt, then some sense of a need to help them. You want to help, but you have only so much life, energy, time, and money.